Mom Wants Justice for Son Who Died in a Connecticut Prison

In 2021, a 19-year-old died while in custody at the Walker Correctional Facility. A year later, the family filed a claim for negligence and wrongful death against the state.

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“I'm so sorry for everything I've done. I wish I could take it back. I wish I could take [back] any pain and tears I caused you. I miss you so damn much. I just want to come home,” mother Melisia Taylor read out loud the last letter from her son, Jamari Taylor.

“At first, I felt it made me happy. Now, I felt like it was a goodbye letter,” she said.

It’s been two years since Jamari’s death. The family was left with so many questions.

I deserve some answers and I’m not going to stop until I get those answers,” Melisia said.

Video shared by the family’s attorney continues to raise concerns about how 19-year-old Jamari died while in custody at Suffield’s Walker Correctional Facility.

Melisia and her attorney believe a call for medical help took too long.

“We see DOC officers walking across the tier, instead of using any sense of urgency or delivering any kind of emergency care to Jamari,” family attorney Alex Taubes said. 

According to reports by the Connecticut Department of Correction, Jamari was unresponsive on Feb. 8, 2021. His cellmate was hysterical and yelling for the cell door to be open.

“Why did you guys wait so long to a phone call that someone is saying someone is dying and has trouble breathing?” Melisia asked.

According to the DOC, staff provided appropriate medical care. Jamari’s cause of death was ruled natural, according to an autopsy conducted by the Office of the State Medical Examiner.

The autopsy shows brain swelling due to lack of oxygen. The family believes this could have been prevented if medical help was provided sooner.

“Despite there being no violations of policy and procedures, there were opportunities for improvement identified,” according to a medical panel review.

“But I call them evidence of negligence on behalf of the state areas where they failed Jamari and didn't provide him with the necessary emergency medical care that he needed to potentially save his life when he was at such a young age,” Taubes said.

NBC Connecticut reached out to the DOC to check if improvements have been made. They issued the following statement:

 “As the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Jamari Taylor from natural causes are subject to potential litigation, it is the long-standing policy of the Department of Correction to refrain from commenting on such matters. We would however, wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and loved ones impacted by the death of Mr. Taylor.” 

Jamari’s families filed a claim against the state for negligence and wrongful death.

“But a year has passed since we came to the Claims Commission, and the state has not provided its position on what happened,” Taubes said. 

Melisia continues to honor her son’s life. On Thursday, a high school he once attended wrapped up their basketball season with an all-star event dedicated to Jamari. The teen was the first winner of the three-point contest when he was a student.

NBC Connecticut did not hear back from the State of Connecticut Office of the Claims commissioner.

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